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Religious Liberty Trend – India : Hindutva’s Advance

By Elizabeth Kendal, World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC)

2/6/07 India (ANS) — While India’s Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) forces suffered a shock-loss in the 2004 federal elections, the Hindutva sharks are alive and well and extremely active just below the surface, generating more and more heat and momentum as they gather the masses into their Hindutva stream. Meanwhile the skaters – the secular liberal progressives presently in power – seem unaware or unconcerned that the ice is melting and eroding beneath their feet.

India has a population of some 1.2 billion. There are more than 25 million Christians and an active, sacrificial and growing Indian cross-cultural missionary movement.

The Hindutva forces worked solidly through 2006. Their plan doubtless is to consolidate their gains and advance further through 2007. They are clearly in the midst of a four-year re-election campaign.

Caste as social order, not Hinduism as a religious philosophy, is the greatest bulwark and challenge to religious liberty and Christianity in India . Without a supernatural work of divine grace in the heart, Hindus can only be appalled and threatened by the biblical concept that all men and women are created equal. This is particularly true of the higher castes, those privileged elite who profit most from the caste system and are the real influencers and power-brokers of India .

(Equality is always welcomed by those who are so to speak “below the bar”: those who will benefit from being elevated and liberated such as the poor and persecuted. Those ” above the bar”, for whom equality means levelling and some degree of sacrifice, are generally less enthusiastic. Hindus are not the only people guilty of this selfishness. Christians can be good at tolerating the injustices they benefit from too! With Christians this is an issue of sin. In a Hindu society however, caste is systemic, deeply ingrained in the Hindu psyche and embedded in Hinduism’s fatalistic religious philosophy.)

The leaders and ideologues behind the Hindutva forces are not driven primarily by a commitment to religious (Hindu) dogma. They are primarily driven by their desire to secure for themselves the privileges of power and caste.

After losing central power in 2004 the Hindutva forces spent much of 2005 bickering, blaming and jockeying as well as analysing the situation and debating policy. Then in early 2006 the Hindutva strategy for re-election emerged for all to see through the Shabri Kumbh Mela in Dangs, Gujarat . This became the subject of the first WEA RLC posting for 2006: ” India : The dictato rs of Hindutva aim for ‘a death blow’ in Dangs.” (26 January 2006)

The Hindutva forces are aiming for re-election in 2009, preferably with a majority so they can change the constitution and establish their fascist Hindu state.

The Hindutva strategy is as outlined in that posting:

  • Hinduise the animists, effecting religious conversions for political gain;
  • create new exploitable mythology and tradition for political gain;
  • create for political gain a climate of fear and anger intense enough to motivate all “Hindus” to unite against a perceived threat to their security.

The Hindutva forces portray Christians as a threat to India ‘s unity, social harmony and national security. In Hindutva-produced DVDs, videos, tracts, books and speeches Christians are described as terrorists, separatists and subversive or unwitting agents of Western imperialistic forces that seek to divide and weaken India in preparation for conquest! Because of this, persecution against Christians has dra matically escalated in frequency, severity and geographical scope. Christians are no longer being attacked only by Hindutva forces and militants, they are now also being attacked by their Hinduised neighbours while police stand idly by, watching and waiting for the chaos to settle so they can arrest and charge the victims! What’s more, this persecution is no longer mostly limited to BJP-led (Hindutva) states. Violent and legislative persecution of Christians is escalating in all states across the nation.

Because the Hindutva forces are active primarily in the religious sphere – Hinduising the animist tribals and creating new exploitable Hindu mythology – their activity is slipping under the radar of most political analysts. But while the Hindutva forces are focusing on the religious sphere it is all for political gain. This strategy of effecting political conversion by means of religious conversion is hugely successful. It is however built on lies, deceit and manipulation. Furthermore Hindutva will not produce the harmony a nd security it promises – only repression, persecution and communal conflict. Instead of growing prosperity and international engagement, a Hindutva India would face destructive turmoil and crippling sanctions.

National and international campaigns are urgently needed to combat the Hindutva deception and propaganda and promote religious liberty in India . If the Hindutva forces are permitted to continue in their highly strategic, exploitative, deceptive, unrestrained and unchallenged advance, then they will regain federal power in the 2009 election, change the constitution and establish a fascist Hindu state where religious repression and persecution will be equal to the world’s worst.